Since the month of May is traditionally dedicated to Mary, I thought I would say a few words about from the story of the Annunication: Luke 1:26-38. I will focus on three aspects of this story that have implications for our own lives.
First, the story take places in a real time and in a real place. It takes place during the reign of Caesar Augustus in a town in Galilee called Nazareth. Our own story today takes place in a real time and a real place. Mary’s world, though far back in time and far away in place, was not altogether different from our own. It was a world of uncertainty, hard times, divisions, political corruption, unequal distribution of wealth, militarism, violence, and gross injustices of all kinds. It was also a world of joy, supportive families, good friendships, charity, and strong faith. Mary, like us, was limited by time and space. She could do only so much with her one precious gift of life. She didn’t know the future either, but she trusted “the unknown future to a known God.”
Secondly, the Annunication tells us that, when the angel appeared to Mary, Mary was much perplexed by the angel’s words. Other translations say she was puzzled or even greatly disturbed. Why? Mary didn’t know what was happening. She wasn’t given a script for her life. There was no heavenly director tell her: “Now, Mary, you kneel over there, and when Gabe comes in, look surprised.” No, Mary had to “ad lib” the role she was playing in God’s plan—just as we “ad lib” our role in God’s plan too! Furthermore, like Mary, we have times in our lives when we’re greatly disturbed, when life doesn’t make sense. Can we, like Mary, trust that even the apparent absurdities in life are somehow being held in the hands of a loving God?
And thirdly, the story of the Annunciation tells us: Mary pondered. She reflected on the words the angel spoke to her. The etymology of the word “ponder” is interesting. It is related to the word “pendulum.” A pendulum is something that swings back and forth. The word ponder means, then, to go back and forth and back and forth before choosing or deciding. The word implies that Mary carefully weighed things. She didn’t jump to conclusions. She thought about things and could patiently live with a certain amount of uncertainty in her life. What about us? Do we take time to reflect on the choices life sets before us?
Over 60 years ago, the British writer Caryll Houselander, said this of Mary: “We shall not be asked to do more than the Mother of God… What we shall be asked to give is our flesh and blood, our daily life… To surrender all that we are, as we are, to the Spirit of Love in order that our lives may bear Christ into the world.”
Let us pray to Mary:
Mary, keep me rooted in the real world,
for it is in the real world that God is bringing about the work of Salvation.
When I am experiencing disturbances and perplexity,
give me patience and strength.
Help me, like you, to ponder the choices life sets before me…
Help me, like you, to entrust the unknown future to a known God…
And may I surrender all that I am to the Spirit of Love
that my life may bear Christ into my time, my place, and our world. Amen.
Are there any words or phrases that stand out for you in today’s reflection?
Today’s video is “Hail Mary, Gentle Woman” sung by the Daughters of St. Paul.
Do you have any thoughts on Mary or today’s reflection? If so, please share some of your ideas below.